M – Variant Descriptions


(1) MARK NELSON (28/1/93)

A complex diplomacy variant set in Italy which adds rule for money, bribes, famines, assassinations and the such like. The rules, and map, can be downloaded from a Judge. Distributed commercially by Avalon Hill.

MAGIC II (???)

Rules originally published in Valinor 1.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 8, December 1975.

D&D strikes! Could use a little simplification, but good. In addition to a standard set-up, one unit is knighted (double strength — must be doubly attacked to totally cut support), and there is a hero and wizard for each player; heroes may accompany their own forces adding one to their strength, and travel alone (over land or water) without strength — if they are unable to retreat they’re annihilated. Wizards may move invisibly (if an enemy unit is in the same space it has 50% chance of detecting and capturing the wizard) or cast one of the fifteen spells in the game. Spells take effect before movement (a spell if broken if the wizard is discovered, hit by lighting or fireball, or attacked). The wizard starts with only a Learning Spell; certain spells must be maintained; one spell is Counterspell against several of the other spells; one spell (Light) may be cast while moving to counter Darkness.

MANICHEION (Claude Bouries) ??/09

(1) MIGUEL LAMBOTTE in SOL 2 (October 1990)

This game adds two new player, God and the Devil who can bless (or curse) provinces. A blessing will neutralize a curse (= impassable). God and the Devil choose a power which they consider will be the winner. If they have guessed correctly they will win the game.

MARCHERVAP (Jon Lovibond) ??/??

(1) GORDON McDONALD in AC-MONG 40 (August 1991)

This game is based on the political situation in Wales as it existed at the time of the treaty of Aberconway, 1277.

There are a number of additions to the regular game. Castles, surprise, garrison armies and two named units: Llewlyn ap Gruffyd and Edward I. There are three Welsh players: Gwynedd, Deheubarth and Powys and three English: Crown, Mortimer and Clare.

There isn’t anything to stop the Welsh and or English powers helping each other, however, Llewlyn and Edward, leader units, in control of Gwynedd and the Crown respectively, can only be used against opposing nationalities. Llewlyn when `stacked’ with as Welsh unit adds 1 to its strength in attack and 2 in defence whereas Edwards counts as 1 for both — this variant has similarities to many a wargame. Leader units and garrison armies don’t count towards the stacking limit, which is two, so it is possible to have e.g. an Army, a Fleet, a Garrison Army and Llewlyn stacked in one province. However, mixing of units from different players is not allowed. Leader units cannot move into a province controlled by units from another nationality or alter the control of a supply centre on their own It is possible for the two leader units to co-exist in the same province providing no other units are present. Leader units can only be eliminated if surrounded and on their own their defensive (or attack) value counts for nothing.

Castles, as would be expected, have a defence value (1) although this only applies if there is a garrison in residence. (They count as double supply centres.) If they are kept in a state of siege for four consecutive movement turns i.e. surrounded, all units occupying them are annihilated due to starvation, but the opposing forces have to wait to the following turn before moving in. Retreats into own castle only!

There is also a limit to the number of fleets a power may build and garrison armies cannot be built even if some are lost. Turns go July, August, September, etc with two movement turns followed by a build turn. There are varying victory conditions, depending on the power and may include a certain number of castles or a dead opposing leader.

Certainly an interesting game combining wargaming methods with Dip. Initially looks complicated, but if you’re a wargamer it’s easy to grasp and in reality probably no more complicated than any other variant with additional unit types. Indeed easier than Ark Royal Dip (qv).

THE MAYA (John Boyer).

Rules Originally published as a supplement to Impassable.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 9, March 1976.

Units serve as both armies and fleets; any number of fleets can be in a sea space; movement is between cities adjacent by road, each of the eight players has a single home city. The home city is the only land space which may have more than one ordinary unit in it, & only one player’s; moves and builds alternate — each land space is a city is a supply center. There is a special, temple, unit which can not be moved, but may be built in any owned center upon a net gain in centers owned — they are built in lieu of ordinary units, but do not count against subsequent supply — temples add defensive strength. The victory criteria is 15 temples in one or more centers. Recommended.


(1) ANDREW ENGLAND in Affairs of State (1988)

This variant is loosely based around Feudal Diplomacy (qv) but has several added features to improve its historicity. Islam is included as a separate power with which none of the other players is allowed to negotiate. To this end it is run by the GM. Byzantium is also presented as a separate power to be run by a player and both the Vikings and Nomads are included as non-aligned powers which move in a random fashion. Additionally, the Vikings make raids into various coastal provinces. The importance of land in the medieval world is presented by making provinces as well as supply centres worth production points. The map has been extended to take in all of North Africa and the middle East hence making the possibility of Crusades a reality. Otherwise the variant the same as Feudal. Time will tell what the strengths and weaknesses of this game are.

MEDITERRANEAN (Max Feron) ??/10

(1) MIGUEL LAMBOTTE in SoL 2 (October 1990)

The Mediterranean world in 1250BC: in spite of certain events (plague, famine) and other problems (corruption, rebellion…) the players must conquer provinces which provide them with money and final victory.

MERCATOR (Doug Wakefield et al)

(1) STEVE AGAR & JON LOVIBOND in ??? (Circa 1979)

This variant is played on a world map with 13 players and a total of 108 supply centres and has been subjected to eleven different revisions, but the rules for `Definitive Mercator’ are now available. The basic units in Mercator are armies and fleets, but players my also form Army/Fleet (A/F) units which enable the combined units to travel together for several moves.

There are four different `time scales’ (TS) in use (i.e. certain types of movement are adjudicated before other types, e.g. armies land from fleets before normal army movement). Due to its size Mercator has had troubles with balance, but the recent revision is claimed to be as near perfect as possible. You’ll have to concentrate to do well. Several optional rules are provided that must be decided on before the start of the game.

(2) BRYAN BETTS in MOPSY 18 (December ?? circa 1984/85)

Mercator originated as a variant played on a world map — a Mercatorial projection, i.e. one which wraps around into a cylinder. Several marks now exist, and all have certain differences from the regular game; largely in movement.

In Mercator there are no convoys — armies cross seas by forming a combined unit with a fleet. This A/F can move as a fleet, and can land the army, rather like an amphibious assault. Movement is in three phases: PHASE ONE: Armies may board or land from fleets. If a fleet gives up its own move then it may support its army to land. Since no defensive support is possible this is a very powerful attack. PHASE TWO: Normal diplomacy moves and supports. A/F’s can move as a normal fleet. PHASE THREE: Armies may embark onto or disembark from fleets (without support). A fleet which embarks/disembarks an army may then move to a sea space.

An example. Suppose England has F(ENC) and A(Lon). He may order: TS1: A(Lon) BF(ENC), TS2: A/F (ENC)-MAO, TS3 A(MAO) D(NAf), F(MAO)-WMS! As you can imagine, Mercator is a fast moving game, with the emphasis very much on attack. In addition, the cylindrical map means you can (with careful planning) attack your enemy simultaneously from both sides! No sooner does he think he’s stopped your attack in the west then you slam into him from the east!

The final important difference is the use of the `Key Rule’, which says that a unit which fails to move may be dislodged by an UNSUPPORTED ATTACK from any provinces other than the one it failed to move to. Example: ENGLISH F(NTH)-ENC, F(MAO)-Bre, FRENCH: F(Bre)-ENC. The French fleet is dislodged from MAO since its move failed.

In short, a great game, with opportunities for all sorts of blitzkriegs and dirty deeds — and the chance to play countries like Australia, Brazil and Japan!

(3) JAMES NELSON in SPRINGY 45 (February 1991)

This is a global variant of which there are a number of different versions.

All powers have foreign build centres, and the game mechanics ensure that the game doesn’t get bogged down. This fluidity makes the game a great tactical and diplomatic game, and it has attracted its own subculture of hard-core Mercator players within the UK hobby.

The game is quite complicated, and the rules quite lengthy but once the basic concepts have been understood everything falls into place. There are a large number of articles on the game, both on the play and the design.


(1) MIGUEL LAMBOTTE in SoL 2 (October 1990)

Weather conditions enable provinces to appear and disappear.

MIDDLE EARTH II (Don Miller) ??? 1965 ??/05

(1) STEVE AGAR in V&U 2 (July 1980)

This is basically a map variant in which the players represent Arnor, Gondor, Mordor, Rhovanion and Rohan. The designer overcame the fleet limitation which is built into Middle-Earth variants by allowing armies to turn into fleets and vice versa, and outlawing convoys. There was no attempt to recreate the book — Middle Earth was used as a scenario and nothing more.

MIDDLE EARTH V (Lew Pulsipher) ??? circa 1975 ???/07

(1) STEVE AGAR in V&U 2 (July 1980)

In many ways this is just a seven player version of Middle Earth II, in which the players are now Angmar, Dwarves, Elves, Gondor-Rohan, Harad-Ruhn, Men of the North and Mordor. The fleet rules were altered to accommodate the convoy, allowing the fleet to army conversion to happen in any province but specifying that the army to fleet change could only take place in costal SCs. In order to improve player-balance Lew introduced Mountain ranges (e.g. to surround Mordor) which are impassable apart from specifically marked mountain passes — the effect of these mountains on the play balance are considerable (and make it easy to form a North-South stalemate line).

MIDDLE EARTH VIII (Lew Pulsipher) ??? circa 1976 ???/08

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 7, September 1975.

Eight players, one move per year, one fortress per home country, army/fleet conversion, standard Pulsipher victory condition: a majority of units possible + one (to guarantee against `false’ wins). The Elves (located in the center of the board) have a fourth home center and Mordor has one home center in the center of the board. The location of the boundaries and fortresses do not make particular sense, given the Middle Earth setting, and the game lacks magic, alignment, and mountains; as a Middle Earth variant it is unappealing, although the design features and concepts would make a good abstract variant.

(2) STEVE AGAR in Variants & Uncles 2 (July 1980)

Really original title, huh? This is an eight player Middle Earth scenario (Agnor, Angmar, Elves, Rohan, Gondor, Rhun, Rhovanion and Mordor), designed primarily as a fast FtF game. The principal change is the introduction of a one movement season per game year, to speed up the flow of the game and to encourage adventurous tactics. Also, each player is given a home fortress centre (which adds one to a defensive unit). The fleet rules are those of ME II.

MINIMALIST DIPLOMACY (Phil Reynolds) vb07/07

(1) MIGUEL LAMBOTTE in SoL 2 (October 1990)

The seven classic powers have one province each. Each one is adjacent to at least three others.

MOOSE (Paul Girsdansky).

Rules originally printed in Magna Avis 2.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 8, December 1975.

A Scandinavian player and a Pacific theatre are added. Very confused.

MULTIPLICITY (Richard J.Walkerdine)

(1) STEVE AGAR and JON LOVIBOND in ??? (circa 1979)

Basically exactly as Regular, except that the formation of multiple units is allowed. Multiplicity is played to a 3-season year. This variant doesn’t seem too popular at the moment — perhaps it is TOO simple for most variant players.

MULTIPLICITY PLUS (Richard Walkerdine and Stephen Agar).

(1) Steve Agar in Spring Offensive 11 (April 1993).

This is a new version of Multiplicity II which I have put together to take the Multiplicity concept to its natural conclusion. Unlike original Multiplicity where the ability to merge was seen as an extra type of move, these rules see merging as the usual state of affairs, reflecting the fact that in real combat military units of the same nation do not stand each off! However, as you would imagine, the death of the self-standoff does make a significant difference to the tactics of the game.

Another departure from Multiplicity II is that these rules permit the formation of multinational multiple units, with rules covering the possibility that a player may wish to stab the player with whom he has joined forces. This was always outlawed in Multiplicity presumably because it made everything too complicated.

Despite having been around since what seems like the beginning of time, Multiplicity has never proved that popular and few postal games have been played, which I think is a great shame.